WhatsApp launches new service to target SMEs

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Social media platform, WhatsApp has launched a new service, WhatsApp Business, aimed at small businesses that have thus far been using their accounts, a move that brings it closer to monetising its free platform.

While the focus, at present, is to get small businesses on the platform for free, the firm plans to charge them in the future.The app was launched on Google Play in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S. last week, and will be launched around the world in the coming weeks.

“Through our research, we know that over 84 per cent of small businesses who use Whatsapp in India think that it helps them communicate with their customers, and 80 per cent of them think that it helps them grow their business,” WhatsApp Chief Operating Officer, Matt Idema told ET.

“People can continue using WhatsApp as usual — there’s no need to download anything new. And people will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, with the ability to block any number, including businesses, as well as report spam,” the company said in its blog.

WhatsApp Business gives users a verified green checkmark badge next to account name. Businesses will be able to create a company profile with information such as address, business hours, and description of product or service offered. Its messaging tool will help businesses manage consumer chats — quick replies that provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages that introduce customers to business, and away messages that let them know you’re busy. It also has a web interface.

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